Final Countdown


In a few minutes or so, the space shuttle Atlantis should be blasting off, with its four-person crew, on the very last mission of the US Space Shuttle program.

As it prepares to embark upon its final voyage, I thought I’d share a picture from its first voyage, as it was being delivered to NASA following construction.

Kinda neat, this pic.    Kinda sad, this day.   Its going to be awhile before the US puts its own people into space.     I remember as a kid, at my dad’s house I had a cut-away poster of the shuttle, depicting its innards, that hung over my bed.    I’ve never seen one up close, and it’ll be nice to get the chance once they’re in museums, but I think I have a pretty strong emotional attachment to the shuttles.    So its weird for me to be heading into a world where we aren’t flying these things.

Shame we don’t have a next-generation shuttle entering service to replace our retiring fleet.    I think it is something that the international community ought to consider pulling together to develop, construct, and deploy.    The Soviet Union built the Buran shuttle shortly before its collapse, and those now sit rusting away.    Soon ours will no longer be flight-capable but preserved.    We’re losing capability for space exploitation with the retirement of these vehicles.   While that capability will probably get restored through private industry at some point, it might be awhile.   Currently everything going on there is still in development.  

The rest of this blog will be getting added in real time.



Ugh.  31 seconds to launch and now the final countdown is on hold.

Here we go…   less than 30 seconds away.

main engines start

it lifted off a second early.   🙂

man, i’m tearing up now.

never seen one fly through a cloud before…. watching it via the cam attached to the fuel tank is neat.

except its having issues, that camera.

solid rocket booster separation, the curve of the earth clear in the background

now everything looks like its at stand still… ah space.   🙂    not quite there yet though.

7700 mph…   i can’t comprehend that.

rolling ‘upright’

sunrise on its belly.


more than 4 miles per second?   even more unfathomable for this earth-bound boy.

15000 mph!

main engine cut-off…. the last time they will go silent.   ;(


Tank separation


Well, that’s the last time I’ll get to observe that.     Perfect launch from what I can tell.

Enjoy your final cruise, Atlantis!


Learn more about the Shuttle Fleet:

7 Replies to “Final Countdown”

  1. I have a hard time breathing during a launch. I love it but it scares me too. I can’t breath until MECO. And then I’m just waiting to not breathe during re-entry. lol

    It’s quite sad to have this gap. It’s sad to know how many great people have to leave the space program they love because of this gap. But I believe you’re correct. When it comes to future space exploration it needs to be more international. That causes it’s own problems, but countries don’t have the resources to do space travel properly. It’s too political.

    In the end, what I read is we don’t become the explorer race of Star Trek fame until the year 3400 or so. In the mean time we have a lot of work to do. lol

    You know, I bet things change a lot in the next decade as the Federation members make themselves known to humanity on a large scale. I feel pretty positive that it will happen in a very safe way – as safe as can happen when humans are idiots and get scared of everything. But, if I’m wrong that’s ok too. We’ll keep doing what we’re doing, with or without aliens. 😉

        1. I’m not familiar enough with Star Trek to know. lol But we do have a long tradition of renaming things after other things. Humans are so creative 😉

      1. Could be. If those darn aliens would just let us use their technology… lol

        From what I read, Gene Roddenberry’s last lifetime was in the future during that time frame. The timing of his current life (well I guess now it’s technically past since he died) was purposeful so he could bring those stories and concepts to our generation in time for our big first contact. When you think about it, there aren’t many positive portrayals of aliens in our culture. Star Trek is one of the best, along with Star Wars. But Star Trek is far more in depth. I’m not a Trekkie, or even a Trekker, but I do enjoy the show when I get around to watching it.

        1. I met a guy once who claimed to be Klingon/Vulcan and born into a human body. Let’s just say he certainly looked the part.

          Not only is it one of the few positive portrayls of aliens in SciFi… its also one of the few portrayals of a human future worth achieving.

          1. Also true. I don’t know if the guy was Klingon, I don’t know if they actually exist, but it’s possible I guess. Lots of things are possible. 🙂

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